Kyoto born Japanese conductor Daisuke Muranaka studied at Tokyo University for Foreign Studies then conducting at the Musikhochschule in Vienna. His conducting style has been particularly influenced by Peter Maag and Claudio Abbado, his mentors. He has enjoyed a successful career in opera houses mainly in Europe, including Venice, Palermo, St Gallen, and Palermo but also in Tokyo and Yokohama. Muranaka is the winner of the prestigious Idemitsu Music Award (2001) and Mitsubishi UFJ Music Award (2009). Muranaka conceived and directed the Yokohama Opera Mirai Project 2006-2009 and created its Opera Mirai Project Orchestra, an international platform for young talented orchestra players from Japan and abroad. And in 2013, Muranaka founded Orchestra AfiA, again for young talented players, which is increasingly gaining a reputation as one of the best orchestras in Japan. Orchestra AfiA is known for its unique concert series “Nature and Music” conceived by Muranaka.
What the nominator wrote:
I am pleased to recommend Daisuke Muranaka who started the innovative orchestra AfiA in Japan for the following reasons:
1) Artistic innovation
AfiA’s core concept is its series “Nature and Music". Its first concerts were held at Tokyo Hamarikyu Asahi Hall - an urban forest. Its second series of concerts were tied to the Shinto shrine ceremony. In 2013, Muranaka undertook a project playing specially dedicated music in the Shinto shrine in Kamakura Hachimangu, one of the biggest Shinto shrines from the 13th century.
2) Social innovation
An orchestra reflects the society to which it is attached. In Japan, orchestra members are expected to devote themselves to the organisation as part of a rigid social system much like “salary-men” in Japanese business concerns. Audiences also often reflect a rather conservative view of classical music. Muranaka understands that young talented players are looking for a platform to express their music freely and this freedom appeals to audiences. In 2006 he auditioned 100 young musicians. Many became members of AfiA and are today celebrated as some of the best players in the orchestra. AfiA members enjoy artistic flexibility and freedom to realise new ideas. Without Muranaka’s engagement it is probable that these young talents and their innovative work would have been lost.